Heartland Cuisine: Spirit of Dakota 2023

Posted 9/19/23

2023 Spirit of Dakota shares recipes

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Heartland Cuisine: Spirit of Dakota 2023


Be inspired by the vision and courage of twelve outstanding women, as they are recognized at the 37th anniversary celebration of the Spirit of Dakota Award, slated for Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Huron Event Center.

The public is invited to attend the awards banquet and ceremony by reserving tickets in advance. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Huron Chamber and Visitors Bureau, 605-352-0000 or 1-800-487-6673.

The 2022-2023 nominees are Julie Bell, Brookings; Juanita Delbridge, Union Center; Mary Lou Gruebele, Eureka; Lynn Hanson, Aberdeen; Jeannie Hofer, Huron; Stephanie Judson, Pierre; Kathy Larsen, Brookings; Jennifer Luper-Lark, Huron; Wally Matush, Hill City; Amanda Nolz Radke, Mitchell; Jamie Lee Seiner, Pierre; and Judy Winegar, Wessington Springs.

The winner will be chosen by a state-wide commission of Tona Rozum, Chair, Mitchell; Julie Garreau, Eagle Butte; Jean Hunhoff, Yankton; Carol Johnson, Watertown; Julie M. Johnson, Aberdeen; Suzette Kirby, Sioux Falls; First Gentleman Bryon Noem, Pierre; Jacque Sly, Rapid City; Marsha Sumpter, Kadoka; and Ginger Thomson, Brookings.

All twelve women will be given distinguished recognition throughout the many activities planned, including an afternoon tea reception, an art show, which is open to the public, in the lobby at the Huron Event Center from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., a 5:30 p.m. social, and 6:30 p.m. banquet.

Since 1987, the Spirit of Dakota Award has recognized women throughout South Dakota who have demonstrated vision, courage, and strength of character in the development of their family, community, and state. Marilyn Hoyt, Huron, serves as chair of the Spirit of Dakota Award Society and is assisted by a local planning committee to make the awards celebration a very special time for the nominees and guests.

Past honorees warmly describe what the award has meant to them. For June James, Hazel, total amazement comes to mind as the honor was so unexpected, “Knowing that a group of my peers thought so highly of me and took the time to submit a resume of my activities was truly humbling,” she recalls. “I proudly display the beautiful plaque in my foyer. It is often a topic of conversation.”

James was referring to the plaque she received in 2007 to commemorate this outstanding achievement, a gift treasured by each honoree. The framed, one-foot bronze oval was sculpted by Dale Lamphere, and modeled after the sculpture that stands outside the Crossroads Hotel and Huron Event Center.

The nine-foot sculpture depicts a pioneer woman with the prairie winds blowing her hair and long skirt about as she is looking onward with courage and determination.

“Perhaps she may have carried a milk pail on her way to milk the cows with her children watching her work,” James commented. “Today’s pioneer woman also looks forward and the Dakota winds blow her hair and blue jeans. Perhaps she carries a cell phone in her pocket but her vision is the same, always forward thinking, adjusting to change, and advocating for women, children, and her community. It is an honor to be in such wonderful company.”

For 2006 award recipient, Jan Manolis, Huron, “the Spirit of Dakota Award has meant so much to me and receiving this honor has been a humbling experience. I am so blessed to live in a community that I love and one that has been so good to me all my life. I am so thankful that I was “planted” in such a wonderful place. God has blessed us all.”

Gratitude was also expressed by Jo Vitek, Watertown, who received the award in 2019. “Regarding the honor of being chosen as a recipient of the Spirit of Dakota Award, I am truly grateful. As I live out the fourth quarter of my life, I pray that with God’s grace I am able to fulfill the hope of my calling—the “why” God created me. The gifts I’ve been entrusted with are not for me but are for others. It’s an honor and privilege to use the gifts God has entrusted to me and my life experiences to help others.”

For others, the award will always bring fond memories of their trips to Huron. “I’ve attended meetings at the Crossroads for years,” said 2021 recipient Angela Ehlers, Presho. “Each time, I would admire and be impressed by the Spirit of Dakota display. Those recipients were trail-blazing women of character, vision, persistence and endurance! Never, ever, ever did I consider that my name would be added. It still doesn’t seem possible. I believe every woman nominated was just as deserving to receive the award. I am humbled and honored and feel a responsibility to be a positive representative.”

Humility is a quality many of the distinguished women share including Patricia Baird, Custer.

Despite a difficult childhood, Baird has went on to serve others prompting her nomination for the statewide award in 2013. “When I was nominated for the Spirit of Dakota Award, it was such a huge honor to be among the most elite women in South Dakota. Then it dawned on me — nobody has the ability to choose what situation they are born into but everybody has the ability to choose what they become.”

Above is an art display during the 2021 Spirit of Dakota event.

Pecan Bars
From June James, Hazel
    2 cups flour
    1 cup brown sugar, packed
    1 cup butter
    5 eggs
    1 cup dark corn syrup
    ¾ cup white sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and brown sugar, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients except the pecans, blend well. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture over the baked crust. Reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake 50 minutes until set. Cool in pan. Cut into 12 large bars or 24 bars for a cookie tray.

Rhubarb Bars

From Patricia Baird, Custer
    1 ½ cup flour
    ½ cup powdered sugar
    Dash salt

Stir flour and powdered sugar and cut in ½ cup butter. Press in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.

    1 ½ cups sugar
    1/3 cup flour
    4 eggs, slightly beaten
    2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix together sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla; add 5 cups finely chopped rhubarb.  Pour over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Tony’s Chili
From Jo Vitek, Watertown (in memory of her late husband)
    2 ½  pounds top round steak
    1 ½  green pepper cut into ½ inch squares
    1 ½  yellow onion cut into ½ inch squares
    2 envelopes mild chili mix
    28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    14-ounce can diced tomatoes
    40-ouncecan dark red kidney beans
    2 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans  
    6-ounce can tomato paste

Cut steak thinly, into bite-size pieces. Turn stove heat to medium. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil in 6-quart cast iron pot, along with steak pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown meat and drain; set aside. Microwave green pepper and yellow onions for 3 minutes; add to browned meat, along with rest of ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, occasionally stirring. Note: May use light red kidney beans along with dark red kidney beans, depending on your preference.

Oven-Baked Grill Cheese Sandwiches
From Jo Vitek, Watertown
    2 loaves Pepperidge Farm Butter Bread
    2 sticks of butter
    Kraft Deli Deluxe White American Cheese, 10 slices

    Kraft Deli Deluxe Yellow American Cheese, 10 slices  

You can prepare up to 10 grilled cheese sandwiches at one time using this oven method. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use Pepperidge Farm Butter Bread. Melt in the microwave sticks of butter and set aside. Brush one side of bread with butter and place buttered side down on parchment paper. Use Kraft pre-sliced yellow and white American cheese and place one of each on the pieces of buttered bread on the cookie sheet. Then place the second piece of bread on top of the cheese slices and coat with butter.

Place sandwiches in oven on broil. Watch closely so as not to burn and flip only once to brown the other side. Cut sandwiches in half and serve on a cutting board next to the pot of Tony’s Chili. 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
From Jan Manolis, Huron
    2 ½ cups all purpose flour
    ½ cup cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 ½ cups sugar
    3 eggs
    1 cup canola oil
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 packed cups grated zucchini, unpeeled
    1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 x 5 inch pans with non-stick cooking oil spray. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the canola oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, along with zucchini and chocolate chips. Stir just until combined, and divide batter into loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are cracked and springy to the touch.

Reduced-Fat Pear Cake
From Angela Ehlers, Presho

Why bake with pears instead of oil? A nutritional benefit is reduced fat and total calories. One hundred grams of vegetable oil will add 94 grams of fat and about 850 calories to your recipe, whereas pears offer less than 100 calories and virtually no fat. Pears also boost fiber and antioxidants, and some research has linked pear consumption with reduced risks for heart disease and diabetes.

    1 can (15-ounce) reduced-sugar pears
    1 package cake mix (regular size)
    2 large egg whites, room temperature
    1 large egg, room temperature
    2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cake pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Drain and dice pears, reserving syrup. In a large bowl, add cake mix, pears, pear syrup, egg whites and egg. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high for 4 minutes. Add batter to cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For a bundt pan, bake approximately 50-55 minutes, then cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on a wire rack. For a 9x13 cake pan, bake approximately 30-36 minutes; two 8-inch rounds, 38-42 minutes; two 9-inch rounds, 28-34 minutes; and 24 cupcakes, 15-20 minutes.